Help to Buy report hits housebuilder shares

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Housebuilders were the biggest fallers on the 100 share index throughout Friday after a report raised the prospect of the government's Help to Buy scheme being wound down early.

The scheme - which aims to help first-time buyers - is to be reviewed, according to a report in Property Week.

Among the housebuilders on the FTSE 100, Barratt fell almost 5% and Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey about 4%.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 36.94 at 7,547.63 points.

Shares in Merlin Entertainments were the best riser, closing up 6%, despite the firm - which owns the London Eye. Legoland and Madame Tussauds - saying recent terror attacks had led to fewer visitors to its city centre sites.

The company reported half-year profits of £50m, unchanged from a year earlier, although it said full-year profits were still set to meet expectations.

RBS shares rose 2% after the bank reported its first half-year profits for three years.

It made a profit of £939m in the first six months of the year, a big turnaround from the £2bn loss in the same period of 2016.

On the currency markets, the pound reversed gear against the dollar after the US jobs report came in stronger than expected, it ended in London down 0.78% at $1.3037.

After flirting with new nine-month lows against the euro around 1 euro 10, it ended up 0.26% at 1.1097 euros.